Åland medical capacity being boosted with mainland doctors

Swedish-speaking doctors and nurses from Turku will go to work temporarily in Åland as new restrictions are in place for staff from Sweden.

File picture of Åland Central Hospital / Credit: SLF.se

Doctors and nurses from Turku are being sent to Mariehamn to support local healthcare services, as cross-border restrictions lead to staff shortages in Åland.

Around a quarter of doctors and nurses working at Åland Central Hospital live in Sweden, with many commuting on a weekly basis between the Swedish mainland and Åland. Under new restrictions on cross-border travel, as foreigners coming to Finland they would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

“That’s a major problem for Åland” says local MP Mats Löfström (SFP).

“With this quarantine it means the Åland hospital will be lacking ten doctors and between 20 to 30 nurses” he tells News Now Finland.

The Swedish-speaking staff coming from Turku to Åland to help on a temporary basis are of course not subject to any quarantine.

Although Åland has only nine confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, the lack of doctors and nurses will put a strain on the other routine medical services the province’s healthcare authorities are able to provide.

“It’s an adequate response, and it will solve the problem but it’s not an optimal solution” says Löfström, who would prefer to see a similar arrangement in place for medical staff for Åland that is already in place in northern Finland on the Swedish border.

There, Finnish medical staff are allowed to go across the border to work in Sweden, and allowed to return home to Finland without going into quarantine for 14 days.

“In the north the commute is going in the opposite direction and Swedish hospitals are relying on Finnish staff. Without them, the Swedish hospitals would be in really hard problems. They couldn’t rely on getting extra medical staff from other parts of Sweden” explains Löfström.

Under the new arrangements for Åland the FinnsHEMS helicopter in Turku will also serve Åland for emergencies.

“I’m really thankful and Åland is really thankful to Turku hospitals that they are doing these arrangements, because its not optimal for them either. Every hospital needs their doctors at this time” says Löfström.